Islamic State claims Las Vegas shooting, says attacker recently converted to Islam


Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a shooting that killed at least 50 people and wounded over 400 in Las Vegas early on Monday, and said the attacker had converted to Islam a few months ago.

“The Las Vegas attack was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried it out in response to calls to target states of the coalition,” the group’s news agency Amaq said in reference to the US-led coalition fighting the group in the Middle East.

“The Las Vegas attacker converted to Islam a few months ago,” Amaq added.


In recently unearthed essay, Winston Churchill anticipated space travel and extraterrestrial life

Quoting Winston Churchill has always been something of a pastime.

If you’re going through hell, keep going. 

History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

What hasn’t often been quoted is the essay he penned in 1939 titled “Are We Alone in the Universe?” concerning that very question. That isn’t surprising, as the 11 typed pages were never published before being lost to the world for more than three decades.

Churchill, who served as British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and then again from 1951 to 1955, updated his manuscript in the late 1950s while staying at a French villa owned by Emery Reves, his publisher. Nothing came of it, and eventually Reves’s wife Wendy passed the manuscript along to the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Mo. There it gathered dust until last year, when the museum’s new director, Timothy Riley, discovered and handed it over to Israeli astrophysicist and author Mario Livio.

In an article published in this week’s edition of the science journal Nature, Livio examined the essay’s contents. Churchill’s work will be unveiled today at the National Churchill Museum, where visitors can view several of its pages.

The most striking takeaway from the essay is how modern Churchill’s conclusions were. One obvious example: “One day, possibly even in the not very distant future, it may be possible to travel to the moon, or even to Venus or Mars,” he wrote 30 years before Neil Armstrong’s historic journey.

His more nuanced views of the potential for extraterritorial life, though, “mirrors many modern arguments in astrobiology,” most notably that in the ever-expanding vastness of the universe, such life is likely. As Livio wrote:

In essence, he builds on the framework of the ‘Copernican Principle’ — the idea that, given the vastness of the Universe, it is hard to believe that humans on Earth represent something unique.

Perhaps Churchill’s most intuitive prediction, as Livio noted, was that of the habitable zone. While Churchill didn’t use this modern term, he closely described it.

After noting that “all living things of the type we know require water,” Churchill observed that the presence of water — thus the potential for life — likely requires a rocky planet at the right distance from a star to be “between a few degrees of frost and the boiling point of water.”

Then, as Livio wrote, “Churchill also considers the ability of a planet to retain its atmosphere, explaining that the hotter a gas is, the faster its molecules are moving and the more easily they can escape. Consequently, stronger gravity is necessary to trap gas on a planet in the long term.”

Given these requirements, the former prime minister concluded that Venus and Mars were the only places in our solar system that could support life.

In other words, he predicted the first definition of the habitable zone — more than 60 years ago. According to PBS, “The habitable zone first encompassed the orbits of Venus to Mars, planets close enough to the sun for solar energy to drive the chemistry of life — but not so close as to boil off water or break down the organic molecules on which life depends.”

One of the aspects of Churchill’s essay most praised by Livio, ironically, is a segment in which Churchill was off the mark.

In a segment focused on other solar systems (“I am not sufficiently conceited to think that my sun is the only one with a family of planets,” he wrote), Churchill wrote in affirmation of a model suggested in 1917 by astrophysicist James Jeans which argued that stars are “formed from the gas that is torn off a star when another star passes close to it.”

But Livio praised Churchill’s skepticism of the now dismissed model. Via Livio:

Now Churchill shines. With the healthy skepticism of a scientist, he writes: “But this speculation depends upon the hypothesis that planets were formed in this way. Perhaps they were not. We know there are millions of double stars, and if they could be formed, why not planetary systems?”

In his essay, Churchill blended his science with his experience with humankind: “I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilization here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time.”

Churchill’s curiosity about the universe shouldn’t come as a surprise. In addition to being a regaled statesman and military strategist, Churchill had a scientific mind.

“He had a tremendous intellect,” Westminster College president Benjamin Ola Akande said in a statement. “Even though Great Britain was on the brink of war at the time, Churchill continually educated himself and wrote thought-provoking essays that demonstrated his leadership beyond government and military affairs, but also in science.”

“Renaissance man that he was, Churchill was keenly interested in science,” Livio said in a statement. “For example, he was the first British prime minister to hire a science adviser and made the UK a friendly environment for science and scientists.”

If nothing else, the unearthed essay serves as a reminder that politics and science can — and indeed have — gone hand in hand, each benefiting from the other. In a world in which the two are treated by some as adversaries, this message might be more powerful than ever.

As Livio wrote, “At a time when a number of today’s politicians shun science, I find it moving to recall a leader who engaged with it so profoundly. … Particularly given today’s political landscape, elected leaders should heed Churchill’s example: appoint permanent science advisers and make good use of them.”

Lest We Forget: Top Officials and Insiders Recently Indicted for Child Pornography and Sex Abuse
By Thomas Müller of The New Nationalist

History shows high ranking government, security and law enforcement agencies can become safe havens for pedophiles, especially those who obtain seats of power. And the media has a long history of complicity covering for them. As an experiment, simply Google “New York Times pedophile ring,” and you will see page after page of disgraceful debunking of  “insane conspiracy theories.” I could not find one story listed from below reported by the NYT.

Unlike the “nothing to see here, move along” mainstream media, The New Nationalist (TNN) is willing to provide the evidence of possible crimes that have already been revealed sources largely ignored. The FBI itself says child exploitation has reached epidemic levels. The following is just a sampling of what we’re talking about — the ones who were, by some miracle, actually caught. It’s stunning to see how many are involved in high level security and law enforcement positions. Let’s review, shall we.

Jesse Ryan Loskarn, center, former top staffer for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, had been charged for possessing and distributing hundreds child pornography videos. PHOTO: WJLA TV/AP
Jesse Ryan Loskarn, center, former top staffer for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, had been charged for possessing and distributing hundreds child pornography videos. PHOTO: WJLA TV/AP

“Capitol Hill rising star” Ryan Loskarn, chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.),committed suicide in 2014 following his arrest for trading films involving the rape and torture of children. Loskarn originally turned up in a massive investigation by Toronto police called Project Shade that resulted in the arrest of 348 participants in a pedophile ring in 2013. It is unclear why it then took federal agents almost three years to question or detain Loskarn. TNN’s theory is that agencies are infiltrated by pedos at all levels, but occasionally the remaining “clean” law enforcement make busts, except at the very top levels (Podesta, etc).

Next up is U.S. State Department Director of Counter Terrorism Daniel Rosen, who was arrested in February of last year on charges of online solicitation of a child under 15 years old for sex/sodomy. Rosen would be an ideal target for foreign intelligence services looking to blackmail a government employee with access to classified information. He had high level security clearance and worked on programs to help train law enforcement agencies around the world in combating terrorism.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman was accused in 2013 of “routinely… soliciting sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children,” according to an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation. Former OIG investigator Aurelia Fedenisn said her unit had found widespread evidence of “sex and drug scandals,” but that the OIG “were told not to look into it.” Fedenisn said, “Investigations into the allegations were called off by senior officials to avoid political embarrassment.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director of Cyber Security Timothy DeFoggi56, was sentenced in January of last year to 25 years in federal prison for “participating in a child pornography ring that sources say was so depraved, it even shocked veteran investigators.” DeFoggi was a registered user of an online child rape and torture (aka child porn, trading) website, where he “expressed an interest in the violent rape and murder of children.” He suggested “meeting another site member in person to fulfill their mutual fantasies to violently rape and murder children.”

Deputy Press Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Brian Doyle was arrested in 2006 “for trying to seduce online someone he thought was a teenage girl.”

There are  dozens of cases involving Homeland Security, TSA Agents and probation officers, indicating non-existent vetting and, in fact, the opposite. Are like-minded pervs being deliberately recruited?

Washington, D.C.’s National Children’s Museum Chief Operating Officer Robert Singer, a 49-year-old father of two, was arrested in November 2007 and charged with five counts of child porn distribution. He plead guilty and was sentenced in July 2009 to five years in prison.

Child Protection Services (CPS) staff member William Shaffer was arrested in July 2013 for purchasing nearly $7,000 worth of child pornography (aka rape and torture). According to the criminal complaint against Shaffer, “A 1987 police report alleged Shaffer sexually molested a boy between the ages of 8 and 9. The police report alleged the incident happened while Shafer was a Child Protective Services employee.”

Another CPS employee, Stanley Dorozynski, 53, was arrested in December 2010 and charged with two counts, one each, of possessing and receiving child pornography. Upon his arrest, Dorozynski was in possession of more than 2,400 child sex abuse images and videos, including the abuse of children as young as four years old.

David O’Brien, America’s chief scientist responsible for monitoring global nuclear activity at Patrick Air Force Base’s Technical Applications Center, which operates our Atomic Energy Detection System, was arrested in May 2013 and charged with 10 counts of possession and distribution of child pornography. His large child porn collection was discovered at his home and on Air Force computers. In October 2014, he was sentenced to five years in federal prison. O’Brien had download videos of the sex abuse of children as young as three years old. He had taken pictures of his own granddaughter and placed images of her face over those of children being sexually abused.

Former CIA Chief of Station in Algeria Andrew Warren, 42, was arrested April 2010 after neighbors called Norfolk police to report Warren exposed himself in public. “He had his genitals hanging out of his pants, over the top of ‘em,” said one witness. Warren reportedly said, “Excuse me. I’ve had minor surgery so I get a little horny sometimes.” He had been terminated from employment with the CIA in May 2009 after he drugged the drink of a woman in Algiers and raped her. Warren plead guilty and, in June 2009, was indicted on sexual assault charges. Diplomatic Security Service agents also found child pornography on Warren’s laptop computer in 2008. When he was the CIA’s Chief of Station in Algeria, he allegedly “drugged and raped multiple women before getting recalled home.” Warren was sentenced on sex assault charges, among others, to more than five years in federal prison.

Former FBI agent Donald Sachtleben, 54, was arrested in May 2012 and charged withdistribution and possession of child pornography. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in November 2013 to eight years in prison. He was also sentenced to unrelated charges, including one count of disclosing and one count of possessing classified information. At the time of his arrest, Sachtleben was director of training at the Center for Improvised Explosives at Oklahoma State University.

Army Colonel Robert Joel Rice, a 55-year-old war games developer at Army War College, was charged with 130 counts of child pornography. He had more than 30,000 images and videos of child sex abuse. His wife discovered his files and notified local police. Army War College continued to employ Rice and allowed him supervised access to Army computers while on bail pending trial.

David Bourque, a 51-year-old police captain in Granby, Conn., was sentenced to 10 years for child porn possession and distribution. He had more than 328,528 images and 4,000 videos on his police department computer, including “sadistic and violent acts” against infants and toddlers. His “collection” was organized into more than 300 sub-folders named “photos — babies — men” and “6–10 yo boys pics.” Bourque showed “callous disregard” for the children being abused, telling people to “enjoy” themselves and “have fun.” Samples of his online chats included extensive discussions of rape and bondage of children as young as 2. Bourque was an officer with more than 31 years in law enforcement.

Army prosecutor and judge advocate Daniel Wollverton, father of two, was convicted in 2011 for infant sodomy and possession of over 30,000 images and 1,000 videos of brutal child sex abuse, including that of a 3-month-old infant.

Maine Assistant Attorney General James Cameron, 52, was sentenced to just over 15 years in federal prison in December 2014 for seven counts of child porn possession, receipt and transmission. Cameron, widely recognized as Maine’s “top drug prosecutor,” had been trading in PTHC (pre-teen hard core). Images and videos that investigators seized“depicted prepubescent children, sadistic and other violent conduct.”

Former Undersecretary of the Navy James Daniel Howard, 70, was arrested for child porn possession and reproduction in 2013. Howard had served as special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He plead guilty to 10 count of child porn and served only seven months in jail.

Navy Joint Strike Fighter Program officer Bruce Babchyck was arrested in 2014 for downloading “hundreds of gigabytes” of young girls and bestiality on government computers. He received a one-year sentence.

Southern Florida Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Anthony Mangione, 50, was arrested on “extreme child abuse” charges in September 2011. He was sentenced in November 2012 to nearly six years in prison. Mangione is a 1982 graduate of the University of Maine Orono (UMO), where former Child Protection Services (CPS) senior Cynthia Wellman claimed, at the time, CPS was operating a child sex ring on campus with UMO’s involvement.

US State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security special agent James Cafferty, 45, pleaded guilty in January 2012 to child porn charges and was sentenced the following April to seven years in federal prison. Upon his arrest, he had more than 30,000 images of child sex abuse.

This article originally appeared on The New Nationalist and was re-posted here with permission.

Israel recently warned Belgium of lax airport security — report

Israel reportedly warned Belgian officials of the numerous security failings at the Brussels airport weeks before a series of deadly bomb blasts ripped through the site on Tuesday.

Israeli security officials tasked with assessing safety measures at various international airports that operate flights to Tel Aviv found “significant shortcomings” at Zaventem Airport, Channel 2 reported Wednesday.
The report came amid widespread criticism of Belgium’s approach to immigration and security and reports that Brussels officials had specific information about the planned attacks.

On Wednesday, Turkey revealed that Brussels attacker Ibrahim El Bakraoui was detained and deported back to Europe last year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Belgian authorities failed to confirm the suspect’s jihadist links and released him despite Ankara’s warnings that he was “a foreign fighter.”

Belgium identified Ibrahim El Bakraoui as one of two men who blew themselves up in the Zaventem airport departure hall while his brother Khalid struck at the Maalbeek metro station in the attacks on the symbolic heart of Europe.

Some 32 people were killed in the attacks and over 200 injured.

Belgium said on Wednesday that the Bakraoui brothers were connected to the deadly Paris terror attacks in November of last year.

In the wake of the attacks, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on Wednesday criticized Belgian complacency in the face of rising terrorism.

Katz said the Belgians were too busy “eating chocolate and enjoying life” to properly identify terror as Islamist, and would not be able to combat the phenomenon until it did so.

In a similar vein, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Tuesday accused Brussels of “naivety” over the spread of Islamist extremism in their country.

Both Katz and Sapin were criticized for their remarks, and some say the country is being unfairly singled out and the timing of the criticism is crass.

Belgium has faced disparagement in the past over its security failings, particularly in the wake of November’s Paris attacks that were largely planned in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, considered a hotbed of Islamist radicalism.

Jewish owners recently sold Paris’s Bataclan theater, where IS killed dozens

The Bataclan theater, targeted in Friday night’s Paris terror attacks, was Jewish-owned for decades, but was sold two months ago, its former owners said.

French magazine Le Point said early Saturday that the Bataclan, where at least 80 people were massacred by Islamic State gunmen on Friday night, has for years been the target of anti-Zionist groups as the Jewish owners often put on pro-Israel events. The publication quoted a member of the extremist group Army of Islam, who told French security services in 2011 that, “We had planned an attack against the Bataclan because its owners are Jews.”

The Eagles of Death Metal, the band performing at the theater when the attacks began, played in Tel Aviv’s Barby club in July.

Pascal Laloux, one of the theater’s former owners, said Saturday that the theater was “sold in September after 40 years.”

“We’re devastated because we knew everyone who worked there,” he told Israel’s Channel 2 news.

His brother Joel, the co-owner, told Channel 2 that they sold the theater on September 11, and he recently immigrated to Israel. He said he took a call from the theater at the time of the attack “and I could hear the gunfire.”

He also said a member of the Eagles of Death Metal was “hit by a bullet and killed.” There was no confirmation of this. “There is blood everywhere,” he said. “It will take three days just to clean that up.”

Pascal said Parisians no longer feel safe “after what happened here.”

“The terrorists have no rules,” Pascal said. “We have to take the bull by the horns” in the battle against terror, “and France and the government never do.”

Rescuers evacuate an injured person near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/MIGUEL MEDINA)

Rescuers evacuate an injured person near the Bataclan concert hall in central Paris, early on November 14, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/MIGUEL MEDINA)


Did you get a replacement credit card in the mail recently? Are you confused as to why?

Banks have been sending out new chip-enabled credit cards that have to be inserted and held in a credit card reader to complete a transaction.

These new cards look similar to your old credit cards, but now have a small metallic chip on the front. Think of the chips — called EMV microchips — as mini computers. They hold your payment data, which is currently held on the magnetic stripe, and provide a unique code specific to each purchase.

Nearly 3 in 5 of the 1,000 consumers surveyed by payments solutions company ACI Worldwide have not yet received a chipped card. Among those who already have their new card, only 32 percent said they understand the U.S. is moving to a new card processing system.

To get up to speed, here are few things you need to know about the transition to chipped technology.

 The U.S. is the last major country to transition its cards. The U.K. was the first to adopt the new payment system, known as the EMV standard. Developed by and named for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, EMV requires cards be outfitted with a chip that transmits a unique code for each transaction. The technology dramatically reduces the ability of thieves to use stolen credit card numbers in stores.

The U.K. adopted the standard in 2006, followed by Australia in 2008 and Canada in 2012. However, the U.S. has lagged behind implementing chip technology and is the last industrialized country to adopt EMV. According to EMVCo, Western Europe had nearly a 84 percent EMV adoption rate as of 2014, while the U.S. adoption rate was about 7 percent.

“There was a perception that perhaps a better technology would come along,” says William Bondar, senior vice president of retail payment at PNC Bank.

What’s more, until recently, experts say there hasn’t been a pressing need to increase card security. “Our banks are very good at detecting fraud right after it happens,” says Deborah Baxley, principal of cards and payments at Capgemini Financial Services, noting institutions have developed systems to quickly flag questionable transactions and minimize losses.

EMV standard hoped to deter foreign fraudsters. However, as other countries migrated to the EMV system, thieves and hackers have increasingly turned their attention to the U.S. In 2013, The Nilson Report found that while the U.S. accounted for only 24 percent of global transactions in terms of dollars, the country represented 47 percent of global fraud losses.

“As we know, fraudsters have been pretty successful at breaching card data,” says Allison Edwards, director of product delivery for the card services division at financial services technology firm Fiserv.

Major data breaches at giant retailers such as Target in 2013 and Home Depot in 2014 highlighted how hackers were able to steal sensitive information undetected. Without EMV technology in place, it was then a relatively simple process to turn stolen data into useable credit cards.

Counterfeiting cards will be more difficult. Chip technology will not eliminate data breaches since it is a security measure for cards and not for database systems, but it can minimize the damage.”Even if fraudsters gain access to some of the data, they can’t counterfeit cards,” Edwards says.

That is because even if criminals could figure out how to duplicate the unique codes transmitted by a chip, replicating and producing cards would be expensive. In addition, EMV prevents someone from taking the number from a chipped card and putting it on a traditional, magnetic swipe card.

“If a criminal counterfeited a card with a chip on it, the system will know that card is supposed to have a chip,” Baxley says. If the chip can’t be read, the card will be declined.

Online fraud may be increasing. Since chipped counterfeit cards are impractical to make, EMV adoption often has the unintended side effect of increasing online fraud. Criminals typically opt for Web transactions, which don’t benefit from the protections afforded by chip technology.

“The data shows that fraud will migrate online at alarming rates as criminals and cyber thieves shift their approach to exploit the weakest target,” a spokesperson for e-commerce security provider Trustev wrote in an email.

The firm notes that fraud related to “card not present” transactions (usually those completed online or over the phone) jumped 100 percent in both Australia and Canada after those countries embraced EMV. Meanwhile, the U.K. saw an 89 percent increase in fraud in the years after its implementation of chip technology. Trustev says it’s bracing for a predicted 106 percent increase in online fraud in the U.S. in the coming years.